Season Review Stranger Things

Stranger Things – Season One

"You're asking if the weirdo is acting weird?"

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I love the fact that Stranger Things‘ first season is only 8 episodes long. Sometimes, there’s absolutely no reason for a show to run for 22 episodes, or even 13. If a story is concise and focused enough, then eight episodes is just right. And Stranger Things? Well Netflix is definitely on to a winner here!

Without getting into spoiler territory, Stranger Things tells the story of a small town where a little boy’s disappearance kicks off a whacky tale of government conspiracies and otherworldly phenomena. As an homage to the 80s and Spielberg’s most iconic films, The Duffer Brothers (the show’s creators) have crafted a unique little beast that’s packed with heart, some creepiness, and a whole lot of fun. The season’s narrative isn’t unpredictable (you can probably guess how it will all end), but the characters are so well defined that the journey feels like a fresh one.

And really the ensemble is stellar across the board. Wynona Ryder is the most recognizable face in the cast, and she does a good job with a somewhat one-dimensional role (how many layers can you give a desperate mother anyway?). But the real stars here are the child actors. Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazz and Caleb McLaughlin play a trio of boys who stumble onto a crazy adventure, and they’re pretty incredible. They might be young performers, but they carry the entire season brilliantly with their clever plans and hilarious interactions. Even better is Millie Bobby Brown, the little actress who plays the show’s standout (super-powered) character, Eleven. At only 12 years old, Brown makes Stranger Things her star-making turn, and she’s just electric! It’s a true testament to the show’s casting directors that every single member of the ensemble fits perfectly.

But what really sets Stranger Things apart is the music. The show’s composers, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, have crafted something truly special and atmospheric. Sure the soundtrack spans a number of lovable 80s hits, but it’s the musical score that’s really magical. The show’s entrancing and spooky sounds manage to elevate simple scenes to new heights and it’s remarkable to behold!

Strange Bits

Note: If you haven’t watched the season, skip this section and jump straight to the conclusion.

– Eleven’s makeover was just hilarious wasn’t it?

– What’s wrong with Holly? I always felt like the writers were trying to tell us something where she was concerned. Maybe in season two…

– I’m not sure how I feel about the monster. The CGI wasn’t the best, but its appearances were differently tense and terrifying.

– The most heartwarming moment: the three-way hug with Elle after she admits she brought the monster from the other dimension.

– The most badass moment of the season: Eleven telekinetically flipping the van way up into the sky as the kids make their escape. Wow!

– Loved the big battle at home with the monster. The writers really subverted my expectations with regards to Steve as I genuinely thought they’d make him out to be just a jerk. In fact, Nancy chooses him in the end over nice guy Jonathan!

– Another awesome Eleven moment: her killing a bunch of baddies (including the blonde chick) with one glance.

– Kudos to the production designers for bringing The Upside Down to life. Wouldn’t want to find myself there!

– I kind of wish the show’s Big Bad (“Papa”) got more development. Ultimately he was just a mustache-twirling villain, and he felt like a lesser version of Dark Angel‘s Donald Lydecker. Moreover, the similarities between this show and James Cameron’s creation were too much (government experiment kids with buzzcuts being chased by a father figure).

-. I did love Elven killing the monster and sacrificing herself. But where do we think she is is now? Hopper definitely thinks she’s alive (as evidenced by leaving her waffles in the woods)

– How harrowing was it to see the flashbacks of Hopper’s daughter dying intercut with Will being saved?

– Beautiful song choice as Will is saved: ” When It’s Cold I Like To Die” by Moby. A definite must-download.

– So Will’s back but obviously not the same. His puking of the worm at the end was extremely unsettling, not to mention flashing back to The Upside Down.

– Gorgeous final shot with the camera zooming out as our lovable family enjoys their Christmas dinner, finally reunited.

Conclusion
A nostalgia-filled family adventure with a charming tone and a touching story at its center. I’m eager to see what the show explores in season two.

Nad Rating
B+

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